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My first experiences as a videogame reviewer


As some of you might know, I have become a freelance videogame reviewer for a daily newspaper in my country. Don't bother asking me which one etc. I'm not going to tell you, but I still wanna share a bit of my personal experience with that specific field and how it all works out. This is going to be more about the games I reviewed and which problems I had with them and what I exactly learned by reviewing them. Up until now, I have been doing this on a weekly base for almost 2 months. Enough of the boring stuff, here are the games:

Espgaluda 2 on the iPhone

First I reviewed Espgaluda 2 on the iPhone. The review first was not intended to be published, but only to give the editor an impression of my skillset. It has been published with small edits. Now, why did I choose this game? Well, first of all, it was inexpensive and second of all, I had spend a lot of time with it. That gave me a lot of insight and I was able to write a nice review of about 3000 signs about it. Since it was a fairly niche title, I got a certain sense of accomplishment out of reviewing it in a positive light. It was a first test for me, and a rather successful at that.

I really liked the game, it is a slick and smooth experience, that every shmup fan will absolutely love. Since Shmups as a concept are pretty easy to explain, I had no big problems describing it to the average reader who does not know much about videogames. In the end, it was an easy to write review about a game I really liked.

Scott Pilgrim and Shank for Xbox Live Arcade

Since I got those two downloadable games at the end of August, which was somewhat of a dry month when it came to games, I figured I would do a double review about games with Retro-Feeling to them. Testing the games was kind of awkward first, since I really didn't like Scott Pilgrim at the beginning and liked Shank way more at the beginning than after having finished it. So, it really took some time to get a real impression of the games, which was surprising to me, since I first htought it was an obvious thing.

So, after some time, I really started liking Scott Pilgrim. It took me longer than expected, but the Retro-Charme of it got me after a while. This also was the point where I started taking notes about my impressions about the games I have been playing, in order to reflect about them in the actual reviews. Shank did not fare so well, the gameplay got stale after a while and co-op was not fun to me and my friend with whom I was playing it.

This review was harder to write, if only because the retro-sensibilities are hard to describe to people who don't have a history with videogames and only know the new stuff. I think I got the right mixture. It also taught me not to do double features again with a strict limitation on signs. A lot had to be left out, mostly on the Soundtrack side of things.

Metroid: Other M

Pretty much the hardest game I had to review so far! I had high expectations to this title, since I really like Metroid games, and I actually was playing Super Metroid for the first time at the very same time. To really explain, how hard it was to review this game, consider the following: Up until then, I had written about one notebook page of impression while playing a game per review. For Metroid Other M, I had gotten to six pages.

The odd thing was, that the notes really reflected my mixed perception of the game: The go from nice and fluffy to really angry at certain parts. The review was allowed to be twice as big as the ones that came before, So I actually had the place to really put everything in it. Maybe even too much place, since the review dragged on quite a bit.

The hard bit in this review was to give the readers an impression about the series and what it means inside of the videogame industry. I kept on trying to imagine how this game would feel if it was your first Metroid, and that was really hard. I wasn't happy with the review, since I could have made some things clearer, but I had a deadline that needed to be fulfilled. I also think that in some time, I will play this game again, only to see how it holds up in time.


This one came out of nowhere! I originally had planned to review Ninety-Nine Nights that week, but since my store of choice didn't get the game, I had to improvise. So, I chose R.U.S.E. On the PC. What a terrible name. Now, I'm really not too happy with the RTS genre, most of those games really seem to be very boring to me. That kinda kept my expectations low for this game.

I got a semi-surprise out of this review though. I started up the campaign and through the first missions I was quite happy with it, since the game actually explains a lot of things in a very fun way. Unfortunately, after six hours, the whole experience started to drag on quite a lot. The story was not fun and the pacing in the missions was really off. So I headed over to the multiplayer part of the game, where I was constantly beaten, but still had some fun.

There is one very big lesson I learned here: Even though I personally did not really like the game, I could see how people liking the genre could find it very attractive. In the end, I was really happy with my review, because I managed to give that impression to the readers. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I was really happy though, that I did not have to score my games though, that would have been a mess.

Halo: Reach

Well, this was odd. I am well known for not liking Halo a whole lot, but I actually was looking forward to this one, and I was happy to review it. I was surprised at how good the game actually was and how much I liked it, so I wrote a pretty positive review. It was a pretty standard affair in terms of reviewing, completed the campaign in the first day and then did 2 hours of multiplayer for three days. Worked pretty well and got me some nice insight into the game in order to write it. Since it was the first time I reviewed a more multiplayer focused game, it was essential to find out how much time is needed to get a good look at that portion.

Sonic Adventure

Fuck this game.

No seriously, I got Sonic Adventure 2 when I was 17, and I loved it. It was one of my first Gamecube games, so I was naturally looking forward to play the first game. Little did I know that this was going to be my first very negative review. But this was a necessary experience: To write a negative review is probably one of the hardest things you can do in this job. This is mostly due to the fact that you can't just use swear words in order to describe it as I do it here, and your criticism has to follow a certain argumentation. This also was the first time I had problems meeting the deadline: I corrected the review around ten times, as it was really messy. On the pro-side, it became my best review to date, because it is really fun to read, since it is... well, alive. It also showed me, how far I could go without making the newspaper actually edit my review in order to fit it in.

Well that's pretty much it for now. I might write one of these blog posts once per month, if people are interested. I'm happy about any kind of Feedback!
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About Subenuone of us since 9:57 AM on 09.07.2008

Fulltime Journalist for the daily newspaper "Letzebuerger Journal". Worked as a freelance Videogame 'journalist' for that same newspaper for 2 years beforehand. Also, I'm the former News Editor over at www.Sega-Addicts.com. I also wrote a few frontpage stories here on Destructoid....
I also wrote for several weeks for www.Gamersyndrome.com

You can follow me on Twitter, if you want: @SvenWohl

Xbox-Live Gamertag: Neo Subenu

PSN: NeoSubenu

Wii Friend Code:

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

The Conduit

Mario Kart Wii

Some of the Blog posts I'm proud of:
Groundhog Day: No More Heroes
Homo Ludens
No More Heroes and the deconstruction of the phallus

Xbox LIVE:Neo Subenu
PSN ID:NeoSubenu
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/id/Sub
Mii code:4767 3726 4152 1201


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